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Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai
 
 
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Profile

Malala Yousafzai is a student from the town of Mingora in Swat District, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Pakistan. She is known for her women’s rights activism in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban regime has banned girls from attending school. In 2009, at the age of 11, Yousafzai came to prominence through a blog she wrote for the BBC, detailing her life under the Tehrik-i-Taliban regime, their attempts to take control of the valley and promoting education for girls. This confrontation which would later require the Pakistani military to intervene.Yousafzai has since been nominated for several awards, and has won Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.

On 9 October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman.

Childhood

Yousafzai was named after Malalai of Maiwand, a Pashtun poet and warrior woman.

Early in 2009, Yousafzai began writing a blog for BBC Urdu under the pseudonym "Gul Makai" about her experiences as a schoolgirl in the Swat Valley as the Taliban forced closures of private schools after banning girls’ education.

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

Later that summer, Yousafzai's hometown of Mingora, the main city in the Swat Valley, was occupied briefly by the Taliban, leading the Pakistani Army to move in and regain control of the area. During this time, the Taliban closed down her school, and Yousafzai's family was displaced and separated. While she was away, she had the chance to meet with President Obama’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, with whom she pleaded to intervene in the situation. Eventually, after the Pakistani military pushed the Taliban out of the cities in the Swat Valley and into the countryside, she returned to her home, which had been undamaged, and to her school, which had sustained only light damage.

Yousafzai's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is a poet, school owner and an educational activist himself. Ziauddin is said to have referred to his daughter as something entirely special, permitting her to stay up at night and talk about politics after her two brothers had been sent to bed.

BBC blogger

On 3 January 2009, Yousafzai posted her first anonymous entry to the BBC Urdu blog that would later make her famous. She used the pseudonym "Gul Makai" so as not to be targeted by the Taliban. The idea for the blog was that of her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who ran a local private school and would go on to become a major influence in his daughter's activism. [6] The blog captures Yousafzai's troubled psychological state during the First Battle of Swat, as the Taliban forced closures of private schools and banned girls’ education.

I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone. "

—Malala Yousafzai, 3 January 2009 BBC blog entry

Awards

 When Yousafzai‘s BBC blogging identity was revealed, the international children's advocacy group KidsRights Foundation included her among the nominees for the International Children's Peace Prize. She was the first Pakistani girl nominated for the award, and she was runner-up. In November 2010, Yousafzai was awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize. In December 2010, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani named the prize after her. On Malala’s request, the prime minister directed the authorities to set up an IT campus in the Swat Degree College for Women.

The Government Girls Secondary School, Mission Road, has been renamed Malala Yousufzai Government Girls Secondary School in her honour.

Yousafzai has expressed to the media her intent to form a political party focused on education.

Assassination Attempt

On 9 October 2012, a Taliban gunman targeted Yousafzai on a bus taking children home from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. He shot her twice - once in the head and once in the neck. He also wounded two other girls, one critically. She was airlifted to a military hospital in Peshawar. Doctors were forced to begin operating after a swelling developed in the left portion of her brain, which had been damaged by the bullet when it passed through her head.[10] After a three-hour surgery, doctors successfully removed the bullet that had lodged near her spinal cord.

Ihsanullah Ihsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity.” He added that if she survived, they would target her again.

Responding to questions about leaving the country, Yousafzai's father, Ziaddun, has said "We wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not. We have an ideology that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets."

As of 10 October 2012, Yousafzai is still unconscious and on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of a military hospital in Peshawar. A plane is on standby at nearby Bacha Khan International Airport to move her out of Pakistan for further treatment if necessary. The Pakistani government has offered to pay for all medical costs that she incurs.

Public reaction

The assassination attempt received worldwide media coverage and produced an immediate outpouring of sympathy, along with widespread anger. Protests against the shooting were held in several Pakistani cities the day after the attack. Pakistani officials offered a $105,000 (10m rupee) reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.

  • United States President Barack Obama found the news of the Talibani shooting of 14-year-old Malala "reprehensible, disgusting and tragic".
  • United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a gathering of the American Girl Scouts movement, said Malala Yousafzai had been "very brave in standing up for the rights of girls" and that the attackers had been "threatened by that kind of empowerment".
  • United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called it a "heinous and cowardly act".
  • Yousafzai's father, Ziaddun Yousafzai, said "We wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not. We have an ideology that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets."
  • One of Yousafzai's classmates told ARY Digital, a Pakistani television network, that "Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will educate ourselves. We will win. They can't defeat us".
  • The singer Madonna spoke about Yousafzai at a concert in Los Angeles on 9 October 2012. "This made me cry," Madonna said. "The 14-year-old schoolgirl who wrote a blog about going to school. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her. Do you realize how sick that is?" Madonna later dedicated her song, "Human Nature", to Yousafzai during the concert.
  • Marxist Alan Woods mourned the assassination attempt, saying that Yousafzai "was on the side of the oppressed people of Pakistan and Afghanistan and every other country", going on to claim that she was a sympathiser of the IMT.

 
 
 
 
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